Healthy Lifestyle Research Program

Head:A/Prof Lisa Moran
Phone:+61 3 8572 2664

Team Members:

  • Lisa Moran
  • Cheryce Harrison
  • Anju Joham
  • Rebecca Goldstein
  • Julie Martin
  • Mahnaz Bahri Khomami
  • Nadira Kakoly
  • Adina Lang


MCHRI  has a strong focus on nutrition and healthy lifestyle in reproductive aged  women. Our team are internationally recognised in this area and are  multidisciplinary across dietetics, exercise physiology, endocrinology,  epidemiology, public health, health promotion, obstetrics, psychology, and  midwifery. Our program sits across conditions including polycystic ovary  syndrome (PCOS), preconception, pregnancy, postpartum and perimenopause. It  includes mechanistic research in areas such as metabolic rate, appetite, and  obesity impact on insulin resistance and metabolic health. It also includes  clinical research on lifestyle interventions, large-scale epidemiological  research, health services, and population health research. We have a strong  focus on translation and author Cochrane, systematic reviews, international  positions statements, and NHMRC and international evidence-based guidelines.  Collaborations are extensive and include leadership in a Centre for Research  Excellence in PCOS with 20+ collaborators nationally, and many internationally.

A/Prof Lisa Moran: G Cert Pub Health, BSc (Hons), BND, Ph.D, APD is Head of Healthy Lifestyle Research Program, Monash Centre for  Health Research Implementation. She is a research dietitian and Accredited  Practicing Dietitian and an Affiliate staff member of the Robinson Research  Institute at the University of Adelaide. She works in clinical and  epidemiological nutrition research and clinical dietetics and her research  skills include clinical trials, epidemiology, and evidence-based medicine. Her  area of interest is optimizing weight management and nutritional status in  women of reproductive age with the aim of reducing the impact of  obesity-related disease in women and their families.  Her specific areas of research within this  field include infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and key life  stages for targeting lifestyle interventions including preconception, during  pregnancy and post-partum. She specifically focuses on clinically translatable  interventions, reducing attrition, effective components within lifestyle  interventions and mechanisms for action.

By developing optimal obesity  intervention methods for Australian women, her research will result in a  reduced risk of pregnancy complications, reduced side-effects of conditions  such as PCOS including diabetes, heart disease and depression and provide a  foundation to secure a healthier future for newborn children. Her current  projects include 1) mechanistic assessment of metabolic health including the  lipidomic profile of women with and without PCOS and the cardiometabolic  profile of cord blood of offspring; 2) assessment of consumer knowledge of diet  and physical activity guidelines and accuracy of e and m health resources for  lifestyle management for PCOS; 3) clinical models of care for weight management  in PCOS; 4) barriers to weight management in women with PCOS across different  reproductive life stages; 5) effective preconception lifestyle interventions  and 6) the effect of antenatal lifestyle interventions on  dietary intake and cardiometabolic outcomes  in women and their children.

Post-doctoral Research Fellows

Dr. Cheryce Harrison: BBNSc (Hons), G Cert Comm Research, PhD, AEPis a National Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow.  She is an accredited Exercise Physiologist  with a PhD in reproductive women’s health.   Her research to date focuses on lifestyle intervention and weight gain  prevention in high-risk groups of young women, including the development and  delivery of large randomised trials focusing on optimising weight gain during  pregnancy and preventing weight gain in non-pregnant reproductive aged women.  She has expertise in implementation research and translation, including a lead  role in developing a model of antenatal care for obesity management at  Victoria’s largest health care provider, Monash Health, informed by research  undertaken during her PhD. Additional experience includes clinical trial  management and coordination, data management, public health lifestyle  interventions, exercise intervention studies, Australian Government engagement  and policy development, contribution to National evidence-based guidelines,  evidence synthesis and resource development.

Dr. Harrison has several publications, presenting her work locally,  nationally and internationally at conferences and in the media and has received  international recognition as an early career researcher for her women’s public  health research. She is a member of several key international collaborations  funded by NIH and NIHR, including the first international Women in Pregnancy  (iWIP) consortium for an individual patient data meta-analysis on the  prevention of excess gestational weight gain during pregnancy headed by  Newcastle University, UK.  Recent awards  include the Victorian Public Healthcare Award for Optimizing the Health Status  of Victorians.  With a particular  interest in lifestyle intervention incorporating physical activity, she has a  broad aim of optimizing healthy lifestyle change as an effective strategy for  the prevention of obesity and chronic disease in women.  Current projects include: 1/ integrated model  of care for optimisation of gestational weight gain in high-risk pregnancies  (Monash Health) 2/ intervention sustainability and components of long-term  behaviour change 3/ iWIP collaboration for risk prediction tools for  Gestational Diabetes  and  Large-for-Gestational age babies and 4/ optimising exercise engagement during  pregnancy.

Dr. Anju Joham (MBBS (Hons), FRACP, Ph.D. is a National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career  Fellow.  She is also an endocrinologist  at Monash Health. Dr. Joham has an interest in clinical research in the area of  women’s reproductive health and recently completed a Ph.D. focusing on PCOS.  During her Ph.D., Dr. Joham was involved in a mechanistic insulin resistance  study that examined insulin resistance in lean and obese women with PCOS  compared to controls. She also worked on a large epidemiological study and  examined the relationship of body weight to the risk of developing PCOS and  PCOS related metabolic and reproductive complications. During her postdoctoral  studies, Dr. Joham will continue her work with large epidemiological studies  with the aim of studying the natural history of PCOS over the reproductive  lifespan from adolescence, young adulthood to menopause. Dr. Joham has several  publications and has presented her work at conferences both nationally and  internationally. She also has experience with implementation research and translation,  including a model of antenatal care for obesity management within Monash  Health, Victoria’s largest health care provider. She is currently establishing  a multidisciplinary PCOS clinic at Monash Health to provide a model of  multidisciplinary care for women with PCOS in Victoria. Dr. Joham is a member  of the PCOS Australian Alliance and is a contributor to the International  Evidence-based guidelines in PCOS diagnosis and management that are currently  being developed. During her postdoctoral studies, Anju will continue her work  on the large ALSWH epidemiological study. She is also establishing  collaborations to work with other existing longitudinal studies in Australia  with an aim of studying the natural history of PCOS over the reproductive lifespan  from adolescence, young adulthood to menopause.

PhD students

Julie  Martin is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and  doctoral candidate. The theme of her PhD is the assessment of diet quality in  reproductive-aged women, where Julie has assessed differences in diet quality  between urban and rural Australian women and dietary change between those who did  or didn’t received a weight gain prevention as part of a larger randomised  control trial.  Julie is currently  working on a cross sectional study investigating the differences in diet  quality between Chinese and Australian pregnant women living in Melbourne, with  the aim to assess differences in diet quality, and to assess the level of  agreement and appropriateness of Australian dietary assessment tools in this  population.

Dr  Rebecca Goldstein is a doctoral research  fellow and consultant Endocrinologist based at Monash Health with outpatient clinical  appointments in the Diabetes and Maternity services.  The theme of  her PhD is to address the effects of obesity, gestational weight gain  and the associated adverse maternal and infant affects, with development and  implementation of strategies to achieve healthy pregnancies in all women. Her  PhD includes a systematic review and meta-analysis of weight gain below and  above 2009 Institute of Medicine guidelines for gestational weight gain (GWG)  in pregnancy to understand the risk of adverse maternal and infant outcomes. She  is also involved in developing, implementing and evaluating a healthy pregnancy  program for obese pregnant women at Dandenong Hospital that is incorporated  into usual maternity care. This evidence-based program is based on HeLPher, and  focusses on self-management with skills practiced in goal setting/action  planning, problem solving and relapse prevention. The aim is to reduce maternal  weight gain and improve maternal and infant outcomes. She is also working to  develop a risk prediction tool for use in pregnancy to predict women that are  at risk for having infants with LGA and SGA.

Dr. Nadira Sultana Kakoly (MBBS), MPH is a public health physician from Bangladesh, who is a Ph.D.  student at MCHRI. Nadira’s Ph.D.’s project primarily focuses on an ongoing  large epidemiological study, the   Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) that began in  1995. Data has been collected from six mailed surveys and includes over 58,000  measures over 16 years. In her Ph.D., Nadira will longitudinally examine PCOS  prevalence, its interaction with BMI, demographic and lifestyle factors as well  as examine longitudinal predictors of PCOS. The study will also investigate  long-term implications of PCOS including reproductive, metabolic and  psychological features. The results will aim to clarify the natural history of  PCOS and the role of BMI in contributing to PCOS prevalence and its  complications. Nadira also holds a sessional teaching position with the Public  Health Department at Monash University.

Mahnaz Bahri  Khomami is a first year PhD student in MCHRI. She studied midwifery (MSc) and worked as  a researcher in a reproductive endocrinology research centre for 4 years in her  home country, Iran. Her research activities resulted in 17 publications in  fields including PCOS. Her PhD is focusing on the contribution of lifestyle to  pregnancy complications among women with and without PCOS. These results will  be applicable in the prevention, screening and treatment of pregnancy  complications among this high risk group. This PhD project will involve a  systematic review and meta-regression, assessment of epidemiological databases  including the screening for pregnancy endpoints (SCOPE) study, and assessment  of existing clinical models of care for antenatal lifestyle interventions.